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Isaiah 27:1-2

Context

27:1 At that time 1  the Lord will punish

with his destructive, 2  great, and powerful sword

Leviathan the fast-moving 3  serpent,

Leviathan the squirming serpent;

he will kill the sea monster. 4 

27:2 When that time comes, 5 

sing about a delightful vineyard! 6 

1 tn Heb “in that day” (so KJV).

2 tn Heb “hard, severe”; cf. NAB, NRSV “cruel”; KJV “sore”; NLT “terrible.”

3 tn Heb “fleeing” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV). Some translate “slippery” or “slithering.”

4 tn The description of Leviathan should be compared with the following excerpts from Ugaritic mythological texts: (1) “Was not the dragon (Ugaritic tnn, cognate with Hebrew תַנִּין [tannin, translated “sea monster” here]) vanquished and captured? I did destroy the wriggling (Ugaritic ’qltn, cognate to Hebrew עֲקַלָּתוֹן [’aqallaton, translated “squirming” here]) serpent, the tyrant with seven heads (cf. Ps 74:14).” (See CTA 3 iii 38-39.) (2) “for all that you smote Leviathan the slippery (Ugaritic brh, cognate to Hebrew בָּרִחַ [bariakh, translated “fast-moving” here]) serpent, [and] made an end of the wriggling serpent, the tyrant with seven heads” (See CTA 5 i 1-3.)

sn In the Ugaritic mythological texts Leviathan is a sea creature that symbolizes the destructive water of the sea and in turn the forces of chaos that threaten the established order. Isaiah here applies imagery from Canaanite mythology to Yahweh’s eschatological victory over his enemies. Elsewhere in the OT, the battle with the sea motif is applied to Yahweh’s victories over the forces of chaos at creation and in history (cf. Pss 74:13-14; 77:16-20; 89:9-10; Isa 51:9-10). Yahweh’s subjugation of the chaos waters is related to His kingship (cf. Pss 29:3, 10; 93:3-4). Apocalyptic literature employs the imagery as well. The beasts of Dan 7 emerge from the sea, while Rev 13 speaks of a seven-headed beast coming from the sea.

5 tn Heb “in that day” (so KJV).

6 tn Heb “vineyard of delight,” or “vineyard of beauty.” Many medieval mss read כֶּרֶם חֶמֶר (kerem khemer, “vineyard of wine”), i.e., “a productive vineyard.”



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